Yesterday, my friend Dan posted a YouTube video on Facebook–a clip of Ronald Reagan, a saxophone duet from Boston who play 80s songs. (They list themselves as “Boston’s Premiere 80’s Pop Saxophone Duo.”) I listened to them, and I was an instant fan. Their arrangements were fun and upbeat, it’s on the saxophone (almost the bassoon–my original instrument of choice–but good enough (I played tenor and bari throughout high school), they were funny, the songs were popular favorites. Well–let me just show you so you can see for yourself.
See what I mean? (You better!) I wanted to own some of their songs right away.
That’s when the troubles began.
These days, when I want to get music, I typically just go to iTunes and download it. So I opened up iTunes on my computer and did a search for . . . Ronald Reagan. Um. Yeah. Turns out that also happens to be the name of some president or something, so all I got back was a bunch of speeches about Communism and stuff? No 80s pop saxophone duets at all? Whatever. Even using my top secret ninja-level librarian search skills, I couldn’t come up with any of their songs in 5 minutes or less.
So I turned to Google.
I found their web page without too much trouble. But that page? Not much there. Pretty darn sparse, other than a list of performances. But it linked to their Facebook page. Again, not too much there. YouTube page? Some two year old recordings of them. Twitter? Very sporadic Tweets. But it also had a link to their record label (though you had to click the icon to find that out–not self-explanatory at all). Aha! At last we were getting somewhere. They had an album available for purchase!
But no info on what songs were on it, how many songs were on it, samples to the songs that were on it . . .
See some problems here?
Thankfully, I could talk to my friend Dan directly, who had bought the album from them in person, and he told me it had Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, We Built This City, Beat It, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and Take On Me. 5 songs. Studio recordings. Decent quality.
I bought the album. Or at least, I think I did. Once I paid the $5 (yay for inexpensive, but it’s also only 5 songs), the site informed me it was a digital purchase, and that I’d be emailed the download links. At least, I think that’s what it meant. I still haven’t gotten the download links. Or any more info other than a receipt. And it asked for my shipping address . . .
I’m quite optimistic I’ll get my music. In one way or another. But the fact of the matter is that this was a really hard path to follow (comparatively speaking) for me to support this band, and there’s no reason for it to be this way these days. If I hadn’t loved-loved-loved what I’d seen from them–and had a personal friend who was there to vouch for the end product–I would have given up long before I got anywhere. These days, I expect public people to have an online presence. I expect to be able to sample what they’ve got available for purchase. I want to know what I’m getting exactly before I shell out money to get it. And it’s not that hard to do.
My wife set up a Facebook page for a bakery business she runs from the comfort of her kitchen, and it took all of an afternoon. Is it the best page ever? No. It’s just a Facebook page with a list of her breads, her prices, and her contact information. (Kind of hard to zap bread through the interwebs.) But the basics are there. My friend Dan has his music available all over the place to listen to. He’s got a website. An active blog.
To me, having things like this are as basic as having an entry in the phonebook used to be.
Having an awesome “something” is important. But you need to offer ways for new fans to jump on board. Ideally, it’s supposed to work like this: a guy in Philly hears your song. He posts a YouTube video online. A guy in Maine becomes a huge fan. He clicks a button, hears your album, clicks another button, and buys it. Anything less easy than that is just gumming up the works.
(And Ronald Reagan, if you happen to read this, know that I think you’re absolutely awesome and am really looking forward to listening to your album when I get it–however I get it. Also, good job on that whole “bringing down Communism” thing that I read about online. Seems like it was pretty important, so maybe I should cut you some slack on not having your stuff on iTunes. But as an FYI, I don’t know what you did to piss off Democrats, but maybe you shouldn’t be quite so political, ya know?)